Northampton hospital uses texts to prevent missed appointments

A Northampton hospital has turned to text messages in order to remind patients of appointments and curb the massive amounts of money it wastes.

More than 20,000 people missed appointments at Northampton General Hospital in 2014, at a cost to the NHS of around £1 million. As a result, NHS chiefs have turned to text messages in the hope of driving these no-shows down – not only saving money but reducing wait times for everyone else.

Under the new plans, patients will be sent reminder messages detailing the time and date of their appointment, regardless of whether it’s a first-time visit or follow-up. Recipients are then able to rebook their appointment if they’re no longer able to make it, thus making space for somebody else.

The scheme will be rolled out across all hospital outpatients, apart from a few notable absentees, such as certain women’s and cancer specialities. For these – as well as appointment-holders over the age of 75 – hospital staff members will continue to confirm appointments via phone calls.

Commenting, chief operating officer of Northampton General Hospital, Deborah Needham, told “From next week, we are implementing a text reminder service for a number of our clinics.

“This will prompt patients to confirm, cancel or rebook their appointment. A missed appointment is a wasted appointment and can lead to longer waiting times for all patients. We understand that, sometimes, there are genuinely unavoidable circumstances that mean a patient can’t attend, but hopefully this new service will reduce the number of appointments not attended.”

For more information on how much missed appointments cost the NHS every year, take a look at our infographic.